Biography of Miguelina Acosta Cárdenas (¿-1938)

One of the first Peruvian women who had a complete university education. Through his intense journalistic work and his social activism, it played a key role in the fledgling women's movement Peruvian in the first half of the 20th century, advocating - along with other notable political and social personalities - for the rights of women, the concerns of the working class and of the indigenous groups of the Peru.

Miguelina - whose date of birth has not been determined in existing publications - was born in Yurimaguas, in the amazonic Department of Loreto, in the last decade of the 19th century, in the midst of an era marked by the boom in international demand for rubber which revitalized the Peruvian economy after the war with Chile.

Parents belonging to the Group of landowners in the Amazon favored by the boom, Miguelina, Miguel Acosta Sánchez and Grimanesa Cárdenas Montalván, wanted for her sophisticated education that prepare it as a housewife at the same time as administrator of the wealth generated by the exploitation of the raw. So that they sent to Miguelina Europe there perform their basic and secondary studies as accustomed with the sons of the groups Amazon shareholders.

Miguelina studied in France, Switzerland and Germany, after which he/she returned to Peru, in the period in which the rubber exploitation had disappeared by the discovery of the synthetic substitute that we now know. Upon returning to his hometown - in date still not pointed out by his biographers - Miguelina founded there the first local College of women, working in it as a teacher until his transfer to Lima to study at the Faculty of law of the University national most of San Marcos.

During his university studies, Miguelina was interested in different groups of social and political activists, among which highlighted their links with the "Pro-indigena Association", founded in 1909 by student Pedro Zulen and Dora Mayer. In 1914, Miguelina began to contribute to the emerging Peruvian women's movement. He/She was chosen as part of the Board of Directors of the feminist organization "Feminine evolution", founded in the same year by María Jesús Alvarado Rivera. Within this organization, Miguelina sued for women much better education opportunities as also the same civil and political rights than men.

Journalism helped Miguelina to express their social demands. Between 1917 and 1920, Miguelina directed together with Dora Mayer - another Member of the Organization "Feminine evolution" - the weekly independent "La critique". There he/she directed not just weekly, but also published numerous articles signed with the pseudonyms "Maac" and "Emedosa". "The criticism" articles dealt with issues related to the women's movement in the Peru and abroad; the University reform of 1919 and the defence of the rights of indigenous peoples and workers. Among them are Miguelina articles relating to the training of women: claimed that society should provide a good education to women, as well formed would be better able to adequately perform their role as mothers.

After the first world war, the Peru was confronted with a serious economic crisis caused by the growing lack of basic foodstuffs and the consequent rise in prices of keeps. Motivated by the context, "La critique" devoted almost all of the articles to the economic situation of the country, highlighting those writings by Miguelina in its analytical acuity and commitment expressing the most affected sectors.

In April 1919 in Lima emerged a new organization called "Committee Pro-Abaratamiento of the keeps", in which approximately 30,000 workers were mobilized. This organization claimed the reduction of food prices and rent, and sued the Government compel landowners to produce for domestic supply, and not only for export.

The following month, motivated by the presence of women in the days of struggle, the "Committee Pro-Abaratamiento las keeps" invited Miguelina - among other prominent women - to participate in a meeting in order to organize a women's Committee that support the General activities. In this Assembly, Miguelina lucidly presented his opinion on the economic crisis, was then elected as President of the women's Committee, and taking on the task of organizing a demonstration of women against hunger for May 25.A day before the demonstration, women belonging to different social sectors delegations met in Miguelina House, responding to the call that was made in the Lima daily El Tiempo.

While the demonstration has been banned by city authorities, men and women participating in the event gathered on the afternoon of May 25 at the Neptuno Park - in the center of Lima - to perform the so-called "Meeting of the hungry female". The group - between 2000 and 5000 people - was led by Miguelina and some other coordinators. Several women held up signs with writings such as: "Down with the bourgeoisie!"; "We want bread!"; "Down with the capitalists and the profiteers!"; "Viva the women's organization".

Want to move toward the main square, the protesters were prevented by police. Violent clashes between the security forces and the participants of the demonstration, who defended themselves with stones against the attacks. Despite the crackdown, a part of the Group managed to get to the Plaza Mayor, where there were new clashes between police and protesters, leaving many injured. None of these unforeseen incidents could prevent the realization of the "Meeting of the hungry women", in which women were protagonists and exposed their discontent with the economic situation in the country.

On May 26 the "Committee Pro-Abaratamiento las keeps" decided to launch a complaint by abuse that had suffered the previous day's demonstration participants, asking for the dismissal of the Chief of police. The police responded with the arrest of the Secretary general and several members of the organization. In response, the "Committee Pro-Abaratamiento las keeps" proclaimed a general strike that paralysed the economic life of Lima and Callao port for 4 days.

After these events, the women's Committee, under the chairmanship of Miguelina, continued to meet women from different social sectors to plan future activities. Changed the name in "Committee female Pro-Abaratamiento of the keeps and vacation rentals" due to the importance of the weight of rents in support of families. Their objectives did not see realization by its early demise that same year.

In July 1920, Miguelina received his Bachelor's degree in jurisprudence from the University national most of San Marcos. Two months later, "La critique" published his thesis entitled "our institution of marriage lowers the status gives the woman", in which Miguelina expressed the deep commitment that had with the defense of the rights of women.

In his thesis criticized the definition of marriage contained in the Civil Code of 1851 in the same sense that was discussed by the Group of intellectuals feminists of "Feminine evolution" - because within it prevailed male on the female-custody and tutelage by adding three important points: the first about the contradiction between the need for the permission of the husband to testify at trials and not compulsory it should be criminally carried. Miguelina argued that if women were not able to exercise their rights at trial, then also it would need to be represented by her husband in the case of being accused. The second about the impediment of women for economic activities without the permission of their husbands; Suede which was reminded that these rights had been exercised during the single life and that they should not be alienable by the mere fact of marriage. Finally, he/she said that articles relating to this definition not valued women as legal entity, stole her freedom of action and did not require the men from an attitude of reciprocal obedience with handcuffs.

After graduation, Miguelina did not participate in the social activities of Lima that sought to improve the status of workers, Indians and women. Among them it especially highlights their participation in the "second Pan American Conference of women" in December 1924. There he/she exhibited his idea of creating a system of itinerant rural teachers, whose purpose was to improve the education of indigenous peoples to transform them into citizens aware and responsible, able to exercise their rights and obligations and with cultural and progressive desires. These rural teachers should primarily teach the Indians how to use raw materials from each region, how to build hygienic houses, how to make use of the local food items and how to apply herbs to combat diseases. Miguelina participation in the circle of intellectuals, workers and Indians that had arisen around Mariátegui between 1923 and 1930 "Amauta" led to the publication of this exhibition in February 1928 avant-garde magazine.

The last years of his life, Miguelina lived in el Callao, Buenos Aires part of Lima. He/She died in 1938 and was buried in the cemetery Baquíjano y Carrillo of the Callao.


Clerici, Annina. Die erste Etappe der Frauenbewegung peruanischen. Ein Überblick vom ersten feministischen Grundsatzprogramm im Jahre 1911 bis zur Gewahrung des Frauenwahlrechts im Jahre 1955. Thesis. Zurich 1996.

Figueroa Anaya, Nelson and Asunta Rojas Montoya. Voices, dreams and daring. Exemplary women in the Peru. Lima 1995.

Annina Clerici.